- Lauren Aikins
Not all Carbohydrates are Created Equal
There are so many fad diets out there today stressing low or no carbohydrates, or “carbs”, but are you sure that’s the healthiest way to go to lose weight? The truth is that carbohydrates are an important source of energy for all body functions and exercise. Researchers have explored the assumption that carbohydrates make you gain weight and cause obesity in America today. The research shows that weight gain is a result of energy imbalance and it is not a direct result of carbohydrate intake. Carbohydrates can actually help you lose weight. Besides providing energy, foods rich in carbohydrates such as whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables, are good sources of vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, and phytochemicals that can help lower the risk of chronic diseases.
The Glycemic Index
Let’s look at the differences in carbohydrates and discover that a low or no carb diet is not the way to go. The glycemic index shows the rate at which ingested carbohydrates raise blood sugar and its effect on insulin release. Foods lower on the glycemic index are a good source of complex carbohydrates. They are also high in fiber and overall nutritional value.
The list below shows some examples of the Glycemic Index.
Plain Yogurt (14)
Black Beans (30)
Whole Wheat Spaghetti (37)
Brown Rice (50)
Pita Bread (57)
Oatmeal plain (58)
Whole-wheat bread (67)
Corn Flakes (81)
White Bread (70)
French Fries (75)
Facts About Carbs
Carbohydrates come in the form of simple sugars, starches, and cellulose. A monosaccharide is a single sugar unit. Polysaccharides are long chains of monosaccharide units linked together and are located in foods that have starch and fiber. These foods are known as complex carbohydrates. Simple sugars are the are the simplest form of carbohydrates that are the primary source of energy for the human body which are very easily digested. Double sugars require some digestive action but aren’t as complex as starches. Starches need to be broken down into simple sugars to digest.
Fiber is one of the most significant contributions made by dietary complex carbohydrate. Fiber is key for lower incidence of heart disease and certain types of cancer. Carbohydrates are important for athletes and sports performance. It is vital to sustain endurance athletes. For athletes, carbohydrate loading is important to increase muscle glycogen before exercise. For endurance athletes it is recommended that consumption include between 30 and 60 grams of carbohydrate every hour.
Carbohydrates should make up the majority of your intake for fat loss and muscle gain in contrast to many diets you see today. The Institute of Medicine says that a recommended carbohydrate intake for an adult is 45 to 65% of total caloric intake.
Carbs are important to your diet!
Enjoy eating carbs! They are good for you and important to your body’s health. Look for whole grains, vegetables, beans, and fat-free or low-fat milk instead of refined grains and white bread. They can help in your weight loss and healthy eating habits!
NASM Essentials of Personal Training
Insel, Paul, Don Ross, Kimberley McMahon, Melissa Bernstein. Nutrition: Custom Edition, 4th Edition. Jones & Bartlett Learning, 04/2010. VitalBook file.
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